The Lowell Sun reported that a forty one year old Dracut, Massachusetts man has been charged with assault with intent to commit murder, assault and battery, and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon after he supposedly stabbed his wife nine times with a large butcher knife in front of their two young children. According to the article the victim had recently moved out of the couple’s home with their children. The children were visiting with him and around 5:30 the victim went back to the house to pick them up. After a brief discussion the defendant threw the woman down on the ground, stabbed her with a butcher knife and threatened to kill her. The children ran to a neighbor’s house. The neighbor returned and pulled the defendant off of the woman. A district court held the defendant without bail pending a dangerousness hearing and a competency hearing. Charges are pending in the Lowell District Court.
Competence to stand trial in Massachusetts is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 123 Section 15. The law states that at any time a judge may order an evaluation to determine whether a person is competent to stand trial. If possible, the examination is to be conducted at the courthouse or where the person his being held. After the examination, the judge may order the person committed to the Bridgewater State Hospital for a period of up to twenty days. The treating personnel at the hospital may request an additional twenty days, or up to forty days for observation and further examination. If the person is found competent the case will resume its schedule. If not, then the case is continued until the person becomes competent.
Competency evaluations are used primarily when people engage in irrational acts or behave in ways that are uncharacteristic. In this case it appears that the defendant “flipped out” possibly due to the deterioration of his marital situation. In almost every case a person is ultimately found to be competent. It may take several months or in rare instances years but trial or a resolution of the case is almost always inevitable.
Our office has been involved in matters implicating competency hearings and evaluations. We have also handled violent crimes in Lowell and throughout Massachusetts. If you have been charged with a crime call us now at 617-263-6800 or contact us online.
Si usted habla español contacta a nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.